Call For Papers

Philip K. Dick and Vast Narrative

The second PKD Day to be held at Birmingham City University

Saturday 22nd of April 2017

Unlike many writers of SF and fantasy literature, Philip K. Dick never synthesised his plots or characters into vast story-worlds. Apart from rare exceptions, his novels and short-stories are self-contained narratives. Despite this, many commentators on Dick have encouraged readers to work across his fiction as part of one “continuing conversation” (T. Disch 1986), arguing that there is something more than a simple sharing of tropes going on here.

This one-day, interdisciplinary conference will seek to explore the contours of the Dickian vast narrative, examining whether it is fair to talk about a Dick-iverse that is neither connected by narrative continuity (like Lord of the Rings) nor the repetition of characters and situations (like Marvel or DC comics). Furthermore, this provides the opportunity to explore how creators, commentators, industry and fans compete over the canonicity of different interpretations of Dick.

Our discussion of Dick’s work is not limited to his fiction, but expands out to include, along one axis, his non-fiction; interviews, letters and, often unreliable, biographical writings. And, along the other axis, adaptations, allusions and references to Dick and his oeuvre by, for example, filmmakers, other writers, musicians, robotic engineers and academics. Indeed, this conference provides an opportunity for the academic community to reflect on the key role they have played in the formation of dominant interpretations of Dick’s themes and concerns.

Topics for presentation might include, but are not limited to:

  • Vast narratives and storyworlds
  • Texts and intertexts
  • Canonisation
  • Adaptation theory
  • Convergence culture
  • Fictionalised or unreliable biographies
  • Genre studies
  • Fandom and participation (especially around the Exegesis project)
  • Gnosticism and other readings that resist the dominant interpretation of Philip K. Dick

We welcome proposals for twenty minute presentations from both creative and academic practitioners, and from undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers and established scholars.

Please send 300-word proposals to Thomas Knowles thomas.knowles@bcu.ac.uk and Terence Sawyers TSawyers@qmu.ac.uk by the end of March 12th 2017.

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